Thursday, May 05, 2016

recommended gigs

Thursday May 5 - Super Zeroes at the Dive Bar

Friday May 6 - the Super Zeroes and Sex Room at the Double Down

Saturday May 7 - Water Landing, 3d6, Strange Mistress at the Double Down

Wednesday May 11 - Shannon and the Clams at Triple B
Wednesday May 11 - The Rhyolite Sound with Durango 66 at the Griffin

Saturday May 14 - Melanie and the Midnite Marauders with Alan Six and more at 11th Street Records
Saturday May 14 - the New Waves at the Pioneer Saloon
Saturday May 14 - the Lucky Cheats and All Togethers at the Sand Dollar

Thursday May 19 - Whitey Morgan and the 78's at Vinyl

Friday May 20 - the Sloths, the Astaires, the Van Der Rohe and the Lasses Fairs at the Bunkhouse

Saturday May 21 - Rich's birthday show with The Swamp Gospel, the Rhyolite Sound, The Mapes and the Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Friday May 27 - Franks'n'Deans at Mickey Finnz

Saturday May 28 - Joan Jett at Fremont Street Experience
Saturday May 28 - the Kingsmen, Box Tops, Standells, and the Happenings at the Cannery
Saturday May 28 - Shanda and the Howlers, the Lucky Cheats and the 44's at the Blues and Brew Fest at Springs Preserve

Saturday June 4 - Ritchie Ramone at the Dive Bar
Saturday June 4 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Friday June 10 - the New Waves at the Golden Tiki

Friday June 24 - Melanie and the Midnite Marauders and more - venue to be announced

Friday July 22 - Eagles of Death Metal at the Hard Rock

Sunday July 24 - Bob Log III at the Golden Tiki

Friday August 12 - Shooter Jennings back by Waylon's Band at Fremont Country Club

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Eddie Cleanhead Vinson - Cleanhead Blues 1945-1947

I have always loved a wild saxophone and love the early "hot" jazz that blended blues, r'n'b, pop and whatever else into a pre-rock'n'roll stomp. Vinson traversed different scenes and genres, playing in big bands as well as fronting smaller, more r'n'b-centric combos. In these recordings, he blows some mean sax while singin' some powerful blues in bands of varying sizes.

He was a blues shouter in the vein of Big Joe Turner and Big Bill Broonzy - loud, brash, yet tuneful - and his sax playing is clever and melodic, with the proper edge to it, adding plenty of excitement to the songs.

Cleanhead (so named due to his shaved skull) was also a ladies' man and not afraid to sing about it in a somewhat racy way - as a blues singer should! The groups give a strong backing to his vocals'n'solos, though Eddie always stands out. This is not the raw, guitar-driven blues of some of my faves, but is jazzy'n'horn-driven, though no less cool.

Nice collection of some of the man's early work. Dig it a lot!

The Bitters - Yes is IV

I doubt that you will see or hear another band quite like the Bitters in this day and age – they combine punk rock energy with free jazz, Frank Zappa-level musicianship, a bit of heavy metal and Rush-styled prog-rock. Not something that you stumble across every day at your local dive bar! And it is all instrumental! They are incredibly tight-knit, playing together and off of each other, working with dynamics, starts’n’stops and time changes to keep each tune varied and interesting.

"Led" (I don't know if there really is a "leader") by Jeff Murphy on guitar (who also plays bass in local swingin' surf/instrumental combo Thee Swank Bastards) along with Vinny Moncada's flying fingers on the bass, and Frank Klepacki's stompin'n'intricate drums, they flail through nine numbers on this disc. Definite Zappa influences in titles like "Waltz of the Bow-Legged Dwarfs" and "TV Dinner For the Dogs", along with Bastards-styled humor with "Aflatulent" and "Diarrific". 

Wild stuff and a bit challenging and jarring - and not always something you are looking to hear while having a drink at your local punk rock gig - but impressive and worth checking out.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Atlanta Mess Around 2016, Saturday April 30

Unfortunately, I was not able to get to any of Saturday's day time shows due to Gizmos practice and sound check - both badly needed as we hadn't played together for almost a year and it was Melanie's debut! After sound check we were told that the water was off in the entire city (!!) and the fate of the show was uncertain since employees could not wash their hands and so health laws could be compromised! This lasted an hour or two - when we were supposed to have dinner and, ironically, as it was pouring rain outside - while we found some chips nearby and waited to hear the outcome. Eventually, everything was fixed and we were able to eat and somehow with all of the chaos and delays, I also missed the opening band, Nurse, though I heard enough through the walls to note that they sounded like a combination of hard core and post punk.

We did get out front to check out Negative Scanner, since we had heard good things about the band and because the touring drummer, Karissa, had played with the Gizmos at the Chicago show she promoted! Led by singer/guitarist Rebecca, they had an early Siouxie and the Banshees sound - taking the off-kilter sounds from that first album and adding their own minimalist drums and weird licks on their odd guitars. Intense and quite enjoyable!




The three piece Nervosa followed, again incorporating post-punk and hard-core with some Joy Division as the female guitarist thrashed away at her instrument and the drummer sat his kit at the front of the stage.



As they appeared directly before the Gizmos, I didn't get to spend much time watching Predator - and obviously my photos suffered due to the size of the crowd at the time - but again they had a similar take on their direction - lots of post-punk/noise/sound effects/echo/etc.- as was being used by the other younger bands at this festival. All to good effect (no pun intended) though I'm not sure what words to use to distinguish each group.



The Gizmos were excited to play again after all this time and to have Melanie hit the stage on bass! The crowd was pretty sizable by this time and most were taking pix, throwing beers, singing along, dancin'n'yellin' and generally carrying on as we went through all of the songs from our three original EPs as well as the entire new EP, 21st Century Gizmos Fans Can't Be Wrong. We felt that this was one of our strongest shows due to our powerful, female rhythm section and, I'm sure, the fact that we are now learning how to work together again. Truly a great time and we were grateful for everyone involved for having us!





Giz drummer Kelsey


New Giz bassist Melanie!

Closing out the night due to their mythical stage show and the fact that they send the audience into a beer-throwin', crowd-surfin' frenzy was Hank and the Hammerheads. While I am not normally a fan of hard core punks, these cats fused it with garage rock - and keyboards! - to give a truly uncommon sound. The singer was a wild man and the songs were well written. I kept thinking their sound was as if the Lyres were a hard core band! They gave a nod to their roots as they closed with the Stooges "Loose"! A terrific finish to the fest!




The Gizmos have been lucky enough to grace several fun festival stages over the last couple of years and this one was right up there with the best! Great organization, friendly folks, cool club with a real PA and a talented soundman (who put up with our four guitars, two basses and drums without batting an eye) and plenty of F-U-N! Thank you Atlanta Mess Around!

Monday, May 02, 2016

Atlanta Mess Around 2016 - Friday April 29

As always, I didn't get to everything or see everyone (emergency bass repair held us up on Friday), but what I did see was all a blast and this festival was very well organized and everyone involved were ultra cool! Really glad that the Gizmos were able to play - with Melanie Coffee's debut with us on bass! - and we were able to dig the Southern hospitality in Georgia!





The festival was set up with daytime and evening shows both Friday and Saturday and with the afore-mentioned emergency, we got to the Friday day-time show at the 529 just in time to see Wreckless Eric setting up for his solo set. Eric was by himself this time (the Gizmos playing with him and the Len Bright Combo a couple of years ago at Gonerfest) and simply played acoustic and electric guitar, told super funny stories, got a little political and played some terrific tunes. Opening with the fabulous "Reconnez Cherie", he played a few more on his acoustic that went through his amp along with an effects box that he used for some echo and occasional ambient noise. He had a song about the producer Joe Meek, an autobiographical number, "Days of My Life" (after switching to his Telecaster), of course, "Whole Wide World", "Semaphore Signals", and a few more before telling the crowd - in his inimitable, very British way - not to vote for "Donald Cunt" - and closing with a political song, "What's That Sound". His new tunes seem more "serious" than his old work, but were still quality songs and tons of fun.









We walked up the street to the Earl for the evening show and had enough time to enjoy some excellent, cheap food (seriously, eat here if you have a chance - amazing Catfish Po' Boy!) before catching Indiana's Thee Tsunamis. I had met lead singer/guitarist BeBop Bets previously at Gizmos shows in Indiana but kept missing the band, so was super happy that they appeared here. They are in between bass players at the moment and had a token male sitting in (sorry, didn't get his name - he kept a good low end though!) and Sharlene kept the dance groove boppin' while adding cool harmonies and even singing lead on one number. The set was wild'n'energetic, with sassy 60's girl group sounds, garage numbers, staccato guitar lines, different guitar tones on the Mustang that Betsy wielded wild dancin'n'rollin' around on the floor while playin' quality riffs and just general hipness. Had to grab a CD and will fill ya in on that as soon as I have a minute.








The somewhat oddly named Mama followed, with hard partying, Motorhead-esque thrash rock/boogie with garage/hard rock long-hairs (one cat reminded me of LA's Dave James and another of a cross between Mark The Animal Mendoza and Magic Dick!) and a Jonathan Richman clean cut guitarist! Wild stuff!








Death Index was a change of pace with a mix of punk and goth - I thought Ian Curtis fronting the Dead Kennedys! Early punk/hardcore sounds combined with Joy Division/Bauhaus sounds and lots of echo and effects on the guitars. High points for closing with Vox Pop's fantastic "Cab Driver"!









The sound was a bit off for the Tough Shits - way too much bass - but they had a poppy 70's punk sound with some tremelo'd guitar garage influences, as well. Good sounds marred by the overall acoustics.









The Barreracudas (I can only assume the unusual spelling is so that they are not confused with the British 60's revival band from the 80's) were a glam-ish/pop band in the vein of 80's LA groups like the purple-haired Zeroes and Celebrity Skin. Good pop numbers but a bit too much bravado/insulting for my tastes, though I know a lot of folks dig that kinda thing. Good show too, with an energetic singer.









For the Friday night finale we got the legendary Real Kids - old pals of the Gizmos' Kenne Highland - I even saw them at his wedding reception/party back in 1979! Now it's all up to John Felice to lead the way with Dickie Oakes on bass, Billy Cole on second guitar and Judd Williams on the drums. They're older and a bit slower, but still quite rockin', from the opener - one of my faves - "Better Be Good" to "My Baby's Book", "Common at Noon", "Million Miles Away", "All Kindsa Girls", Reggae Reggae" and some comparatively newer ones that I didn't know offhand. Bitchin' Kinks-ian guitar riffs and chord progressions, piercing Tele leads, sing-along melodies and harmonies and fine old-fashioned rock'n'roll! The Earl was pretty damn jam packed for them and the crowd loved 'em!


Thursday, April 28, 2016

recommended gigs

Thursday April 28 - Black Csmaro, the Unwieldies and more at the Bunkhouse

Saturday April 30 - Punk Rock BBQ at the Bunkhouse with Franks'n'Deans, Agent 86, Lambs to Lion, War Called Home, Rayner, The Civilians, the Last Gang, Happy Drunk Cartel, Oceanside Sound System, Radio Silence and Joni's Agenda - starts at 7:00 pm

Wednesday May 4 - Franks'n'Deans Weenie Roast at the Double Down with the People's Whiskey

Thursday May 5 - Super Zeroes at the Dive Bar

Friday May 6 - the Super Zeroes and Sex Room at the Double Down

Saturday May 7 - Water Landing, 3d6, Strange Mistress at the Double Down

Wednesday May 11 - Shannon and the Clams at Triple B
Wednesday May 11 - The Rhyolite Sound with Durango 66 at the Griffin

Saturday May 14 - Melanie and the Midnite Marauders with Alan Six and more at 11th Street Records
Saturday May 14 - the New Waves at the Pioneer Saloon
Saturday May 14 - the Lucky Cheats and All Togethers at the Sand Dollar

Thursday May 19 - Whitey Morgan and the 78's at Vinyl

Friday May 20 - the Sloths, the Astaires, the Van Der Rohe and the Lasses Fairs at the Bunkhouse

Saturday May 21 - Rich's birthday show with The Swamp Gospel, the Rhyolite Sound, The Mapes and the Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Friday May 27 - Franks'n'Deans at Mickey Finnz

Saturday May 28 - Joan Jett at Fremont Street Experience
Saturday May 28 - the Kingsmen, Box Tops, Standells, and the Happenings at the Cannery

Saturday June 4 - Ritchie Ramone at the Dive Bar

Friday June 24 - Melanie and the Midnite Marauders and more - venue to be announced

Friday July 22 - Eagles of Death Metal at the Hard Rock

Sunday July 24 - Bob Log III at the Golden Tiki

Friday August 12 - Shooter Jennings back by Waylon's Band at Fremont Country Club

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Sunday, April 24, 2016

well goddammit - RIP Billy Paul

'Me and Mrs. Jones' singer Billy Paul dead at age 80

The Swank Bastards, Leather Lungs, the Psyatics at the Double Down April 22, 2016

As usual in Las Vegas, there were a number of good shows this evening - as opposed to the nights when you cannot find anything that you want to do - but I ended up at the DD for this cool line-up.


The Swank Bastards are the surf band that will seemingly play anywhere at any time, but are always entertaining and fun - sometimes despite, rather than because of, their corny, dirty jokes. For this set they opened with several of their own swingin' numbers, showing off their instrumental dexterity and guitar-man Jesse's showmanship - not to mention the lovely Ivana Blaize's dancing - before bringing on Daddy O Grande from the Straightjackets. Together they played a number of covers, several Bastards tunes and even a few from the Straightjackets. While there were some cool moments, Daddy seemed a bit uncomfortable or unfamiliar with much of the material. Still, it was a fun time and the crowd - and there was a large number of people there early on - dug it all. The Bastards went on to do a few more songs after O Grande left and gave the people a heapin' helpin' of quality instro coolness.







I don't believe that I had ever seen Leather Lungs before but was kinda fascinated with their brand of low-fi (the guitarist broke a string on the first number and never bothered to replace it), punky, garage-grunge. I was reminded of a trashier, less lead-centric Blue Cheer, while their look reminded me of 80's/90's LA garage-punk bands like the Supercools. The rhythms were fast-paced and frantic and got some of the crowd to form a faux slam pit that even DD's Cactus joined in on!



Of course, I'm a big fan of the Psyatics and they never fail to put on a fine show filled with interesting musical lines, cool lyrics and varied rhythms within the context of their own brand of garage punk. A good portion of the set was from their two albums, though they did pull out a new original rocker - "I Like To Die", I believe - before closing with their unique take on the Velvets "I Can't Stand It Any More". Ivana gave some visual interest to their set, as well, and a good time was had by all.




Unfortunately, it being the Friday of long week, I wimped out on seeing my pals, Water Landing with our friend Nikki sitting in of mandolin, but heard that they went over well, also. Another great night at the DD!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Nothin' But the Blues compilation

There are countless blues compilations these days and I will occasionally pick something up
randomly if it seems to give a good band for its buck - like this 3-CD set that I grabbed for $9.99. Apparently, this title has been used many times, but this one comes in a cool, unusually shaped tin - although only a song listing included. There is lots of obvious stuff here that I already own, but I dig having a selection that someone else has chosen and there are some oddities here.

The giants make their appearances here - Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Leadbelly, etc. - as well as some unexpected surprises. Memphis Slim is always great for piano-blues, the legendary Billie Holiday doesn't often show up on these things, but is nice along side the rest, Louis Armstrong is also unanticipated but cool, and then there's more predictable - though none-the-less great - Jack Dupree, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy Rushing and Big Joe Williams. Sonny Terry's harp is a fine inclusion, Jabo Williams is a bit jazzier, Smokey Hogg gives us bluesy piano, Lowell Fulson always has a cool groove, and we get deep blues with Roosevelt Sykes, Bessie Smith and Big Bill Broonzy.

On CD 2 we get a particularly bluesy Ray Charles, more of the fantastic Big Bill Broonzy and others previously mentioned (the booklet says that Muddy Waters is performing the piano'n'horns "Disatisfied", though it sure don't sound like him), King Oliver gives a New Orleans-styled blues and Memphis Slim performs "Good Time Roll Creole", John Lee is particularly haunting in "My First Wife Left Me", and Sonny Terry's "Ham and Eggs" is almost a field hollar. Charles Brown has a nice, groovin' piano'n'guitar blues, Linda Hayes in unknown to me but sings in a cool, early r'n'b style, Jimmy Rushing is also a smooth r'n'b crooner, Cow Cow Davenport performs ragtime piano boogie, Arbee Stidham's piece is a mix of gospel, roller rink organ and blues, Brownie McGhee does his own interpretation of "How Longs Blues", Ike Turner blends together an incredible number of famous songs in the aptly-titled "All the Blues All The Time" and CD 2 finishes with Leadbelly's full "Black Betty" (made famous in the 70's by Ram Jam).

CD 3 is a star-studded and stellar intro with Muddy, the Wolf (an alternative - London Sessions? - take on "Commit a Crime"), Billie Holiday (sultry'n'sexy), Jack Dupree, Elmore James (master of the slide), Ma Rainey (amazing old school blues), Sarah Vaughn (smooth jazz/blues), Hooker and more! Jimmy Witherspoon returns, Della Reese gives another polished blues, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae and Bessie Smith gets jazzy, we get more grit with big Joe Williams and Lightnin' Hopkins, Broonzy reprises a song for some reason, Ester Phillips is a raw blues belter and the whole shee-bang closes with a cool blues from Irma Thomas.

Overall, a really fun and diverse comp, with everything from raw, solo performances to smooth jazz and just about everything in between!


T-Bone Walker/Lowell Fulson - Blue on Blues

These Blue on Blues compilations combine two similar styled blues musicians in a single CD set of a handful of songs each - 6 in this case. Not exactly greatest hits packages, but more of a "here's some tunes you might not have heard before" set. I have enjoyed all of these that I have found, and this is another good one!

Of course, I am a huge fan of T-Bone Walker and his flashy playing and performance style. His cuts here stem from sessions in the mid-60's to 1970. "T-Bone's Back" was an obvious declaration of his hope for refound popularity. It fades quickly and oddly, almost in the middle of the song, after a solo by second guitarist Joey Long. He gives us a swingin', soulful take on "Baby Please Don't Go", that's also far too short, and then an excellent jump-blues workout in "Louisiana Bayou Drive" that showed that he was still in fine form at this point. "Please Come Back To Me" is a haunting, minor-key, organ-driven slow blues with more fantastic signature licks from T-Bone. There's a return to groovin' jump-blues in "Sometimes I Wonder" before concluding his section with a "Stormy Monday"-like slow blues in "(You'll Never Find Anyone) To Be a Slave Like Me".

Lowell Fulson's numbers also come from 60's/70's sessions, as opposed to his earlier hey-day, and certainly sounds more modern than even T-Bone's work from a similar time period. Fulson was definitely influenced by Walker and both, in turn, influenced BB King, and this session sounds similar in tone to something that BB would have done at this time. "Henpecked" is actually fairly funky and Lowell duels with his second guitarist here to good effect. A slower blues, "Deep In Love", follows with some gospel-esque choral backing and an intense vocal reading by Lowell. Movin' like a fast-runnin' train, "Stop and Think" is a bouncin' rocker with cool guitar runs and some nice harp work. The soulful instrumental "Bluesway" sounds like it could have come from a Stax session with the MG's - complete with funky wah-wah and cool horns. "Take My Hand" is funky and soulful with more fine guitar work and his set ends with the horn-driven "Sleeper", which also gives a funky groove to back Fulson's guitar.

Probably not the best place to start with these artists - their early work really shows off their talents -but still a great little comp. These are usually discount priced and worth the bux!